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Cessna SkyCourier’s first aircraft on its maiden flight. (Photo: Textron Aviation)

Cessna SkyCourier Completes Successful First Flight

Textron Aviation announced a successful first flight of its new twin utility turboprop, the Cessna SkyCourier. The clean sheet designed SkyCourier, featuring Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines, will be offered in various configurations including a 6,000-pound payload capable freighter, a 19-seat passenger version or a mixed passenger/freight combination, all based on the common platform.

“Today was an exciting day for our employees, our suppliers and our customers. The Cessna SkyCourier performed exactly as we expected, which is a testament to the entire team of men and women who worked together to prepare for this day,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation.

The Cessna SkyCourier took off from the company’s Beech Field Airport in Wichita, Kansas, piloted by Corey Eckhart, senior test pilot, and Aaron Tobias, chief test pilot. During the 2-hour and 15-minute flight, the team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems.

“We were very pleased with how the Cessna SkyCourier performed throughout its first flight,” Eckhart said.

The Cessna SkyCourier is designed for high utilization and is expected to offer high performance and lower operating costs. The SkyCourier will feature the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite and offer a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 knots and a maximum range of 900 nautical miles.

FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company and longtime Textron Aviation customer, has signed on as the launch customer for up to 100 aircraft, with an initial fleet order of 50 cargo aircraft and options for 50 more. Textron Aviation has built a strong relationship with FedEx Express, which has utilized the Cessna Caravan platform in its feeder aircraft fleet for over 30 years.

“I’m proud of the way the team has persevered through disruptions caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic and remained focused on getting us to this point. The Cessna SkyCourier will be an excellent product in its segment due to its combination of cabin flexibility, payload capability, superior performance and low operating costs. Our customers will be very pleased with what they experience from this aircraft” Draper said.

The first flight aircraft will join a fleet of five additional prototype articles to perform ground and flight tests required to gain Federal Aviation Administration certification.

The aircraft is expected to offer a cruise altitude capability of 25,000 feet and accommodate three LD3 cargo containers.

“FedEx Express has had a great relationship with Textron Aviation over the years, and this new, advanced aircraft will play a key role in our feeder aircraft modernization strategy,” said David L. Cunningham, president and CEO of FedEx Express.

Rick Shideler
Rick Shideler
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